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Yes, friends, just 22 months ago, this was the state of the White Sox, with Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodón and Reynaldo López celebrating a division title. They are all still chasing the playoffs in 2023 — on other teams.
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Goodbye Lucas, goodbye Reynaldo

You deserved a little bit better than the White Sox

It’s never easy saying goodbye, and certainly not so for two cogs of the White Sox, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López, who saw the full spectrum of the franchise rebuild, from also-rans to league-best to ... uh, also-rans. It’s a shame it ended in shambles, with hardly a playoff win to be counted.

Still, we as a staff wanted to take a moment to say our goodbyes.

Brett Ballantini

I’ll always have my best Lucas Giolito memories tied to his no-hitter in 2020, and the remarkable fortune that had two of our writers, Sam Sherman and Janice Scurio, both covering the game. The shock, joy, wonder, bewilderment at them getting to see what they saw, even with degrees-of-separation pandemic measures that prevented them from seeing the joy in Gio’s eyes or smelling the beer that soaked the clubhouse carpet is an aspect of the milestone that will always stick with me.

Reynaldo López has the best smile in baseball, and after a very rough middle period, it’s satisfying that he had cause to flash it in several situations during his South Side career. Honestly, he seemed like he’d be the most electric and explosive piece of the 2016 trade that brought him to Chicago with Lucas, and while that didn’t pan out, Reylo righted his career as an effective reliever, and even righted his 2023 season after a rough start as forced-closer. In 2020 I was part of several zooms with López, and invariably his daughter, Zoe, would interrupt and insist on being part of his interview. It might not have made, between negotiating audio space with translator Billy Russo and daughter Zoe, for the best information gathering — but they were memorable moments of humanity.

Dante Jones

Lucas Giolito was the first person that I wrote an article for South Side Sox. I have loved him since the first time I watched him pitch. I saw the potential he had in that horrible 2018. I will miss him dearly as he has been one of my favorite players over the last few years.

As for Reynaldo Lopez, I love pitchers who can throw heat. I always felt that he would be a great reliever, and when they finally let him go into the pen after experimenting him as a starter it seemed like he could be a great setup guy for Liam Hendriks.

I wish both the best of luck and if the Angels somehow win it all, I’ll think about getting a jersey.

Brian O’Neill

Lucas, as the commercial incessantly reminded us, was terrible in 2018. But, I mean, so were the Sox. It was the nadir of the Rebuild. They were supposed to be bad, and Gio was just another bad pitcher with potential. He carried within him some hope. He was one of the handful of players upon whose back the future rested.

And it worked. He got the walks (mostly) under control. The 2019 season, or at least the first half, is when we saw that future start to become more clear. We thought of happy Octobers, imagined our boys in a delirious dogpile on the mound, with Gio’s smiling face in the middle. It all seemed like it was working.

Of course, it didn’t. Gio still pitched well, for the most part — though Covid, injuries, and inconsistencies robbed him a bit. But there was still hope. In 2021, in the sea of black, there’s a video of Carlos Rodón and Lucas in the dugout, staring at the manic crowd. “This is what I’ve always wanted,” Rodón told him. “I just wanted to see it.” And Gio? Looked so happy for him.

Lucas was genuine. He was on the right side of things. He was vocal about standing up for what is good and right and true. And now his time with us is over. The Rebuild failed. Everything we wanted out of this team turned to lumpen ash.

That happens. It’s sports. Life goes on, true immiseration lives elsewhere, and Lucas will be happy. He’ll be heading toward that western sunset, carrying with him that memory of hope.

Malachi Hayes

I spent more time at Guaranteed Rate Field in the summer of 2019 than I’d ever care to admit. Having just gone through a cancer scare and leaving a terrible, unhealthy job, I decided to take the summer off as I waited to start grad school, and with the Sox still in the tail end of their rebuild years, it was still quite easy to pick up a $7 ticket and wind up in some great seats amid a crowd of about 10,000 or fewer.

The vibes that Lucas Giolito brought to the ballpark during that summer, after three years of suffering through painful oodles of starts from the likes of James Shields, Mike Pelfrey, Manny Bañuelos, and their ilk, were incomparable. Here was a pitcher who, after being literally the worst in the game in 2018, was mowing through lineups with Chris Sale-esque strikeout numbers, and giving the people in the crowd something to actually cheer about. People in my day-to-day life were talking about making sure they got home from work in time to catch the game when Giolito was starting. The Sox still weren’t good, but Giolito gave fans a glimpse at a future potentially brighter than anything they’d seen over the last decade, and the excitement was palpable. When he shut down the first-place Yankees for six innings on a Friday night in June to move the Sox to .500, the atmosphere had an electricity to it that I hadn’t felt in the ballpark since the tail end of Ozzie Guillén’s tenure. After so many years of things going wrong with the Sox, here was something that finally broke their way, when we least expected it. In 2019, watching Lucas Giolito pitch was an event that made White Sox baseball more exciting than it had been in almost a decade, and even as they made a playoff bid in 2021, it was a kind of fresh-faced excitement that’s simply impossible to duplicate. As Lucas carried that performance into the 2020 and 2021 seasons, it’s not a surprise that he became the kind of heart and soul of a team — from a fan’s perspective — that’s incredibly hard to say goodbye to.

He isn’t a future Hall-of-Famer like Chris Sale, and he never got a chance to carry the team to the playoff highs that Mark Buehrle did, and it some ways, that’s what made Giolito’s relationship to Sox fans even more special: We were there for the lowest of lows and, conversely, some pretty high highs, and even amid the downturn in morale that’s characterized the last two years, Giolito never managed to be anything less than a standup guy and a positive presence for fans to point to, even when things were rough.

Plenty of pitchers have gone on runs like Giolito’s 2019, and plenty of pitchers have thrown no-hitters, but that he did those things at a point where Sox fans were just starved for something fun to latch on to? That’s less common. For a while, it perfectly captured how magical baseball — and a fan’s relationship to their team and its players — can be. We can only hope that it’s the kind of magic Rick Hahn and the front office will be able to stumble on again before too long.

Joe Resis

During the first SoxFest I ever attended in 2019, I had the pleasure of meeting Lucas Giolito, and he was friendlier than I could have imagined. I told him that I had a feeling he was in store for a big season, and he seemed genuinely grateful.

Also, please reference the South Side Sox breakout player predictions for 2019, as I was not just saying that to make him feel good. I would like to just take a moment to point out that even I have the ability to make a bold prediction that works out. Thank you, Lucas, for making that dream a reality.

I will never forget the feeling of watching Giolito’s no-hitter during a bizarre 2020 season. When I wrote the recap that evening, my hands were shaking from all of the suspense and excitement. Even though the lineup Giolito was facing was subpar overall, Giolito deserves high praise for that performance, which should go in the history books as one of the best games ever pitched: 13 strikeouts, 30 swinging strikes, only one walk, and only two hard-hit balls. Giolito needed only 101 pitches to record those magical 27 outs.

While that was Giolito’s best performance, he had plenty of other excellent games as a member of the White Sox. He was a great clubhouse presence, and despite his 2018 season (which also resulted in a terrific commercial), he accumulated 15.0 fWAR for the White Sox. Giolito certainly did his part, even though the rebuild failed. Regardless of where he ends up the rest of his career, Giolito will be one of my favorite players in Major League Baseball.

As for Reynaldo López, he gave White Sox fans plenty to cheer for, as well. López was worth 7.7 fWAR to the White Sox, which is a significant amount, especially when we consider that he was a reliever for the majority of that time.

Even though he had an off-year in 2020, he recovered nicely to be a strong contributor to the division-winning 2021 squad. Even in 2022, when the wheels fell off of the team, López was a fantastic reliever, accumulating 2.0 fWAR thanks to his 2.76 ERA and 1.93 FIP. It was a pleasure having him on the White Sox, and I wish him the best of luck going forward.

Kristina Airdo

In an organization full of poor decisions, malpractice, and incompetence, Lucas Giolito was one of the players that always brought positive energy to the team, making White Sox games enjoyable to watch, even when they were at peak rebuild. A number of us have already pointed out how bad he was in 2018, but he knew he had the potential, and immediately turned around and finished sixth in Cy Young voting just one year later. The perseverance he showed to keep working to get to a point where he was truly an elite MLB pitcher was inspiring, and it was always a privilege watching him mow batters down every start.

As it was for many of us, 2020 was a particularly hard year for me for a number of personal reasons, and being able to finally watch baseball again was a bright spot in a year that brought so much pain. His no-hitter was one of my favorite moments of that whole year, and it also showed just how dominant he could be. He carried that energy through the entire COVID-ridden season, right into the playoffs, zoning into the game like we hadn’t seen before, carrying a perfect game through six innings. I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed watching him grow and pitch over the last several years. While I am sad that he is leaving the team, I’m happy that he is able to go to a team that actually has a chance of going to the playoffs. We sure will miss you, Gio!

Reynaldo López was thrown in an interesting situation with the team more than once — being used as a spot-starter in 2022, doing a pretty decent job filling in for a team that refused to get actual starting pitching help. He has always been a passionate player, and is willing to perform in any situation that he was called on to do.

Year of the Hamster

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox - Game One
Seeing Ricky give Reylo a hug in the dugout — and it happened more than once — was always a sweet moment.
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

I can’t find the screenshot I used in our SSS copy from the actual game broadcast, but I’m almost certain it is from Reynaldo’s masterful win at Cleveland in 2019, a complete-game masterpiece: Reynaldo returned to the dugout, and Ricky like a proud papa was just beaming, hugging hell out of his pitcher, a struggling young man who met his promise. Maybe that image sticks with me because it is indicative of the hope we all felt then, a team rising, future fortunes unlimited. López was a powder-keg arm, and four years ago you still didn’t know whether it would burst into Cy Young or flame into perpetual AAAA. It’s fair to say he split the difference.

And speaking of difference, who knows how the trajectory of López’s career could have changed had he addressed his vision (or had it addressed in, say, a White Sox physical) sooner. His rebirth as a coveted relief cog coincided with LASIK surgery. While I assume Reylo’s vision was not as bad as my own — for the sake of hitters who didn’t know how much their lives were in danger, let’s hope not — but for me, the procedure was nothing short of a miracle. Without Coke-bottle glasses I couldn’t read the alarm clock next to my bed waking up. Without the endless cycle of contact-soak-rinse-repeat I never saw the details of leaves on trees, or what those little things even were, hanging from a tree. So López rediscovering himself at the same time he found his vision tweaked from 20-30 (40? 50? 60? worse?) to 20-20 is no shock. I’m glad he did it — and now, the Angels will be, too.

Jacki Krestel

Giolito’s last start with the Chicago White Sox was on July 23. He put in five innings of work that culminated with an extra-innings loss to and series sweep by the first-place Minnesota Twins. The sweep extinguished the last embers of hope for the White Sox, and left Gio with a no-decision. Not quite the goodbye I would have hoped for.

But his last start isn’t one of the starts I’ll remember.

I’ll remember Aug. 25, 2020. After fighting back from the 2018 season when he was — famously — the worst pitcher in baseball, Gio got Pittsburgh’s Erik González to line out to Adam Engel in right field, completing his first major league no-hitter. That visual of Gio, covered in sweat from striking out 13 Pirates, yelling “LET’S GO!” to James McCann will always make me smile.

I’ll remember Sept. 29, 2020. Just a month after his no-hitter, Gio made his postseason debut. He threw seven innings against the Oakland Athletics, the first six of them without a baserunner, leading the White Sox to their first playoff victory since 2008.

And of course, that look. You know the one:

I’ll remember his off-the-field contributions, and how he and his family really connected with the fanbase. He’s just a really likable guy, and really easy to root for. This one hurts. Thanks for those memories, Lucas.

Jordan Hass

Lucas Giolito was my favorite player after I came back to watching baseball and the Sox in 2020. He was the one guy who, as much as he sucked last year, I hoped would come back better — and he did. The no-hitter and the tremendous game against the A’s in the 2020 playoffs were honestly the things that made me believe the Sox were going to be special — and boy, did that feeling get squashed quick. As much as I’m sad to see him go (and as much as I wished he’d get traded to my current home, Baltimore), I’m happy he’s not a Dodger and I’ll gladly watch him play with Trout and Ohtani with the Angels. If he’s the piece that gets the them a ring, at least that means someone from the 2023 White Sox contributed something to a winning team.

Delia Ritchie

Lucas Giolito was the first pitcher I knew in my heart was going to be my favorite. This was prior to finding out through social media, about his parents, Rick and Lindsay, and how wonderful they were. It’s not a surprise that they raised an incredible man, who stood up for what he believed in. He struggled in his early days, but to quote that one commercial in 2021, “he had something you couldn’t SEE in the stats!” From the 2019 All-Star Game to the no-hitter in 2020 and countless other moments, Lucas will forever hold a special place in my White Sox pitcher-loving heart. It’s bittersweet that he will be going to the Angels, and I wish nothing but the best for him and his family. Thank you, Lucas!

Melissa Sage-Bollenbach

I don’t get attached to players as an adult like I did when I was a kid. I was a pre-teen when I started to dial in on being a White Sox fan, and despite 35 years of fandom since, Carlton Fisk will always be my favorite. However, memorable athletes still come along, and Lucas Giolito fits that bill. In a profession that I’m sure where it is extremely challenging to stay positive, Gio always had a smile and something good or constructive to say in any situation. He also seemed to find true joy in his position and place in Chicago. While plenty of better on-the-field pitchers have sat in the clubhouse at 35th and Shields, Lucas was highly likable and easy to cheer for, and I’ll definitely miss seeing him on the field. So, best of luck to Lucas. Sox fans will always be in his corner — except when he pitches against us! It’s only fitting that he’s leaving town for a set of Angels wings.

Nello Rubio

I was a huge fan of all the great potential Reynaldo López had when we first acquired him from the Nationals nearly seven years ago. Like any prospect with potential, he had many ups and downs during his tenure with the White Sox, from his struggles as a starter to finally regaining his form and having a resurgence of sorts when he was finally moved to the bullpen near the middle of the 2021 season. ReyLo was a true gamer, whose electric fastball you wanted on the mound, whether it was in the bullpen or starting. When the Sox finally decided to have him in the bullpen almost exclusively last season. I was so glad to see him regain his form and go back to averaging 97 mph on his heater.

Like many of us, I thought López would be a potentially great closer when he was thrust into that role to start this season. But like so many things that have went wrong for the Sox this year, it just wasn’t meant to be. Sure, he still had his moments, and I will always love ReyLo for the contributions he made in his short tenure with the team, and cherish his infectious smile and upbeat attitude.

Like ReyLo, I also loved Lucas Giolito as not only a great pitcher and all the contributions he made not only to the Sox on the field, but off it as well. Like many others, some of my fondest memories of Lucas are tied to the no-hitter during the very crazy 2020 pandemic season. In what was a pretty trying year for so many people, and me and my family even more so cause I lost my dad (who was a huge Sox fan) to the disease a few months earlier. It was nice for just that one night on August 25 to see and watch Lucas fulfilling his potential as a great, quality starting pitcher we all knew and thought he could be. The way he was able to mow down the Pirates hitters with such ease, striking out 13 batters and allowing just the one walk that actually prevented him from a perfect game.

After Lucas got that final out and completed the 19th no-hitter in franchise history, for one of the first times since my dad passed, cried; tears of joy, happiness and also a little bit of sadness. Realizing my dad was no longer here in physical form for us to ever watch together at home, or at Sox Park, but also realizing he was watching in spirit.

That particular time, when so many of us were so distant from each other and also a lot of us going through such trying times, it also gave us the hope and promise of this Sox team winning at least one, if not more World Series titles after such a strenuous rebuild.

Now almost three years later, that is all it is: lost hope and promise. Lucas and Reynaldo have been shifted to the Los Angeles Angels, just like they were shipped here to the South Side of Chicago when the Sox acquired them from Washington nearly seven years ago.

Sure, it is a business, and you realize trades like this will eventually happen when you have been playing the way the White Sox have this year, but you hate to see things with such promise end this way — and I am sure this isn’t the last somewhat heartbreaking trade we will see of lovable players traded by the Sox, which makes today harder.

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